Background: The aim of this intervention study was to determine the effects of a new experimental cervical pillow, on symptomatic adults affected by chronic mechanical neck pain.
Methods: Twelve recreational athletes of both sexes (mean age 40.5 years; range 35-55), affected by grade II chronic mechanical neck pain, were evaluated with a daily diary type of self-report questionnaire, which incorporated an 11-point Numerical Rating Pain Scale, to collect the primary outcome measures of pre- and post-sleep neck pain and with the Neck Pain Disability Scale. Tympanic temperature, heart rate (HR) variability continuous monitoring during sleep, overnight pillow comfort and sleep quality were assessed.
Results: Average weekly scores in overall questionnaires, tympanic temperature and the HR low frequency (LF) / high frequency (HF) ratio were significantly lower (P<0.05) after the use of the DM2 pillow than the own pillow. The 80% of participants considered the DM2 "perfectly comfortable" and reported a "good" quality of sleep lying over it.
Conclusions: The use of an appropriate pillow is a determinant factor in relieving neck pain, improving LF/HF ratio and enhancing-vagal activity, promoting deeper stages during the sleep. The shape of this pillow maintains an appropriate cervical curvature, reduces intra-disc pressure allowing a better distribution of loads between cervical discs. The round shaped portion of the pillow, facilitates breathing and avoids the narrowing of the airway due to the incorrect position during the sleep. The peculiar material of the DM2 pillow, contributed to lower brain temperature promoting dry heat loss from the head to the pillow, reducing sweating.